Garmin etrex Legend HCx

I got this as a present today. I want a simple GPS for canoeing and hiking–something that will show me where I am on River X (say the New River in NC as an example, how far to the take out spot, and to mark where I have caught fish–AND where I am in a national forest if hiking.

Will the Legend fit the bill?

Do I need to get additional maps from what comes with the unit out of the box? If so, where? Thanks!!!

Keep it simple

– Last Updated: Dec-25-11 2:35 PM EST –

In my opinion a simple GPS under $ 200 works just fine.
How far are you really going to go:
- on foot
- paddling
- cycling

Unless you are covering big distances, constantly, why
invest heavily in digital maps with high detail you'll never use.

Are you truly going places so remote, a simple compass
won't get you out of most situations ?

I still run a Garmin GPS 60 with some waypoints.
High detail, I use UTM coordinates.

imo, just get maps

– Last Updated: Dec-25-11 8:37 PM EST –

with lat and long on them. I use a plain e-trec in more open areas (on occasion), but love my simple but powerful gps60 with paper "topo" maps and manually installed waypoints.I'm real sure you have enough memory to create your own maps/charts for simple journeys. I know in my 60 I have key buoys and inlets marked for about 100 miles of ocean, as well as a host of hiking/mountain biking landmarks.E-trec screen is much smaller, I just bought that as a backup for my boat when I lost the 60 for a couple years, but found the screen to be so small I just decided to use it for lat/long readings if my main unit acted up. My main unit on the boat, 7" screen, was also a simple unit and got me sailing around 6 states using only paper charts and manually installed waypoints. The marine input on the 60 was done at home, using either the garmin site or the provided disc, been so long I can't remember which.
Nice present you got there, though. Enjoy it.

Garmin basemaps

– Last Updated: Dec-25-11 10:42 PM EST –

That unit should do the trick for you. I bought myself a Garmin eTrex Vista HCX for Christmas and I love it. Usually Garmin basemaps are useless for waterways. You can save yourself some cash by downloading free topo and street maps at:

A tip - TakItWithMe
I use Google Maps and dump waypoints into my GPS

An amazingly simple way to create enough stuff to

keep anyone from getting lost using a plain GPS

GPS and River Trips

– Last Updated: Dec-27-11 7:04 AM EST –

I have used a good garmin gps for years and I find it useful on long trips because it puts me on a paper map and helps us stay on schedule. I use UTM not lat lon most of the time because I find it easier and faster to work with. Pilots use lat lon so if you need to give a pilot coordinates you will need to know how to get the lat lon off your gps.

I will say this though - gps really is not necessary on a river. Generally speaking it is very easy to estimate your location if you have a good map just by referencing the features of the river and surrounding topography. On a river if you keep heading downstream you are going to get to the end. Pretty hard to get lost.

Also, making good use of a gps involves a pretty significant learning curve. "Simple" and GPS really don't go together. Plan to spend a good deal of time reading and learning about navigation with a compass if you don't already have those skills and then plan to spend a good deal of time working with your gps to lean how to make it do what you want to do.

Lastly, don't rely 100% on the GPS and put yourself in places where you won't be able to get out without it. Have the skills and equipment (compass and map) to be able to get in and out without the GPS if you have to.

But - your unit will do all you need. Probably don't need additional maps but they are nice to have. It is a nice piece of kit to have along if you want to hike to location off the river or should you need to hike out in an emergency.

Topo maps
I’ve gotten great utility out of the Garmin Topo 2008 maps for paddling, hiking and biking – it looks like the free topo maps on GPSFileDepot are just as good.

You’ll need to learn the Garmin desktop software (BaseCamp, or the old MapSource) to help plan routes and load maps onto your GPS unit. Converting back and forth between Google Earth and BaseCamp is pretty easy.

Avoid immersing the eTrex, they are not quite as waterproof as they claim.